Austin Brown’s job in the Class AA North boys’ basketball championship game was to hound Deering High standout Askar Houssein all over the court.

Not only did the Edward Little senior co-captain hold Houssein to four points, but he scored 17 of his team-high 20 points in the second half. The Red Eddies, who shot 10 of 20 from 3-point range, defeated Deering, 64-51, on Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena to advance to the state championship game for the second time in three years.

Brown received the George Vinall Award as the outstanding player of the regional tournament.

“Askar is a great, great player, and Austin Brown stepped up because that’s what we needed,” said Edward Little Coach Mike Adams.

Brown’s approach on the ultra-quick Houssein was “get a hand up, stay close to him, and try to stay in front of him. He’s the real deal. He’s tough, but I tried my best.”

Brown’s offense, which included three 3-pointers, was a result of “my teammates making me open and getting me involved. I really just focus on defense, and they got me involved.”

Top-seeded Edward Little (19-2), the 2018 state champion, will meet either South Portland or Thornton Academy next Saturday evening at CIA.

“We’re going to have to play the best that we’ve played all season,” Adams said.

No. 3 Deering (15-6) focused its triangle-and-two defense on stopping burly sophomore center John Shea, who led AA North in scoring with 18.4 points per game. It was a similar approach that the Rams used against Bangor in the semifinals, and they did hold Shea to four points.

“We made things difficult. We didn’t really let Shea get going down low,” Deering Coach Todd Wing said.

But Edward Little did a good job of continuing to feed Shea, who worked the ball back outside. Deering struggled to recover to the 3-point line, allowing Edward Little shooters to set their feet and fire with space. R.J. Nichols made three of his four attempts from behind the arc and scored 13 points. Brown was 3 of 5 from distance. Cam Yorke hit two early 3s, and Max Creaser also had a pair.

“If you have your best shooters shoot taking most of your shots, that’s a good thing, and R.J. Nichols is definitely one of our best shooters. I’d go so far as to say he’s one of the best shooters in the state,” Adams said.

Darryl Germain, Deering’s senior guard, kept the Rams within striking distance until early in the fourth quarter by scoring 22 points, all coming as a result of his determined drives to the basket that earned him several trips to the free-throw line. Germain made all 12 of his free throws. Loki Anda added 11 points for Deering.

Edward Little led 26-18 at halftime and stretched it to 32-21 in the third quarter on a Nichols 3-pointer. Then Germain scored six straight points, and after a 3 from Creaser, Anda hit a 3 and then made an athletic catch and finish in traffic to cut the lead to 35-32.

Deering couldn’t get closer and trailed 39-32 after three quarters, but the Rams were still in the picture when Germain’s two free throws with 6:02 left made it 42-36.

That’s when Brown stepped forward. After a layup on an inbounds play by Dan Milks, Brown hit a 3-pointer and then picked up a loose ball in a wild scramble and turned it into a three-point play for a 50-36 lead.

With Germain the only consistent offensive option, Deering didn’t have the firepower to respond.

“That’s one of the things this year, we’ve not often had three top scorers all together giving their best game,” Wing said.

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